Wednesday, February 13

Jaffa Harbour

Jaffa's harbour is ancient. Some say about 5000, others about 4000 years old. Archaeological digs in the area found stone implements, suggesting the ea very early human presence of fishermen.
The riffs that protect the harbour's entrance have been there, well, for ever. Thousands of years.
They protected the developing town and its people.
It used to be one of the main ports in the area.
In ancient times, when navigation tools weren't that developed yet, boats stayed in sight of the Mediterranean shoreline and its harbours were found more or less on a day's shipping distance. Jaffa was part of the eastern Mediterranean port-chain of Gaza, Ashqelon, Jaffa, Apolonia, Caesaria, Acre etc.
Control over a harbour meant control over the surrounding area as well as economic wealth. And Jaffa, with its natural springs and fertile lands around it, became wealthy.
The riffs and rocks made it dangerous to enter for any one who didn't know the entrance of the harbour very well. Jaffa is high, and therefore relatively easy to defend against a sea-faring enemy.
Jaffa became wealthy and the harbour was the center of activities: fishing and the orange trade.
Durng the Ottoman era the harbour was developed.
But already in the early 20th century the natural defence walls of the harbour started to present a problem: as ships grew taller and taller, they could no longer enter the harbour. They used to anchor outside and small boats would come alongside, to carry people and products to and from the shore.
Over time other harbours (Haifa and Ashdod) took its place, although it stayed active as an international and shipping harbour until the late 1950-ies.
Today it still is an active fishermen's harbour. In addition there are activities for Jaffa's children, such as the sea scouts, a sea canoeing business, and some small fish-restaurants.

Yet the municipality wants to turn it into a relaxation and commerce area, like the Tel Aviv harbour.
And that's where the difference lays, the Tel Aviv harbour, constructed in the 1930-ies, was no longer in use. A dead area of rotting empty warehouses and suspicious activities. There wasn't a single boat making use of it.
The Jaffa harbour is still active, used by Jaffa fishermen for whom it is the source of their families' income. By turning it into a fancy harbour for the wealthy, the fishermen will loose their income. Already it is impossible for the young generation t get a new fishing boat licence.

The renovation plans are ready and the development has started. I'm not against renovation and development, on condition it serves the local population first of all.
Archaeological digs stopped the development. That's usual in Jaffa; when you start developing, you find ancient remains and all development has to stop until the archaeology department has defined what needs to be salvaged and how and what may be destroyed.
Ancient harbour constructions were found, but they are being covered again. Apparently cafes and restaurants for the wealthy are more important than saving Jaffa's past and its people's present source of income.
There has been a public outcry, the findings should be kept open, so people can learn about the harbour's history. Supposedly the findings are being covered for safety sake. But exeperience has tought us, the municipal development plans will continue, money is stronger and Ron Huldai, the mayor, first of all serves big money, not the city's people.

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J.P. said...

What are they fishing for with squid as bait.

yudit said...

Bigger fish, anything that will take the bait